Skip to navigation
Analysis
Music stores

The best music download sites

Posted on 2 Sep 2010 at 15:42

Can music buyers do better than iTunes? Stuart Andrews tests ten leading music sites

After years of the music industry sticking its fingers in its ears and pretending the internet revolution wasn’t happening, the internet is suddenly awash with online music stores.

Yet something strange is happening: where there should be widespread competition, one retailer – Apple’s iTunes Music Store – accounts for more than two-thirds of global music downloads, despite the fact that it isn’t necessarily the cheapest or the best.

Apple’s iTunes Music Store accounts for more than two-thirds of global music downloads, despite the fact that it isn’t necessarily the cheapest or the best

True, some of this is due to the success of the iPod and iPhone, and their close ties to iTunes. Not to mention a multimillion-pound advertising budget. All the same, not everyone uses an Apple player, and more and more people are listening to music on a PC, smartphone or rival MP3 player.

It makes you wonder: do people realise there are better alternatives offering the same music for less? Or that there are superb websites, such as TuneChecker, which reveal the sites selling downloads (and CDs) for the cheapest prices?

In this feature, we’ve performed comprehensive tests of ten of the UK’s leading online music stores. You can see exactly which stores offer the best value for money, as we compare the prices and availability of more than 80 albums – both new and old – from across the different stores.

We’ve also performed detailed tests on the ten stores to reveal the sound quality of the tracks, whether you have to download any extra software when buying your music and any additional features offered by the stores, such as streaming music or sharing playlists. See our reviews below for all the necessary details.

What if our reviews tempt you to consider an alternative to the iTunes Music Store? Even if you have an iPod or iPhone, there’s no need to remain wedded to Apple's store. Apple’s devices are perfectly happy playing DRM-free MP3 files.

iTunes (the software this time, not the store) will add them to the music library if they’re placed in the Music folder, and many stores now provide download manager applications that will add new tracks to iTunes automatically as they download.

What’s more, MP3 files are inherently more flexible and portable than Apple’s favoured AAC. They play and will stream from and to a wider range of devices, and will work with any media player application on the market.

Still, we’re not here to demonise iTunes, but to take a good honest look at the alternatives and – ultimately – save you money on your music. It’s a tough, competitive market, and there are some cut-price bargains to be had, so fire up the browser and prepare to save cash.

Music store reviews

7digital
Amazon
Apple iTunes
HMV Digital
MSN Music
Play.com
Sky Songs
Spotify
Tesco Entertainment
we7

Click here to compare the prices of the top 10 online music stores

Author: Stuart Andrews

Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

7Digital Wins (For me)

Out of ALL the online music download websites, I chose 7digital.

For a start, they accept PayPal: a must have for myself. I just simply do not want to give my card details away or keep entering them on every online store I use.

7digital is simplistic but fast, and I can download at my full ISP speed (2.3MB/sec) all the time - whether using their official download manager for windows or a browser (FireFox is my favorite for quick DL's).

HMV is also good - probably (as mentioned) because they own part of the 7digital store and secured the permission to use 7digital's ecommerce script.

By MichaelAH on 4 Sep 2010

You didn't mention Amiestreet.com

It's an American site with some restrictions on what you can buy from the UK but the most interesting aspect is it's pricing mechanism which starts prices low ($2 or less for an album) and rise as they're purchases and/or recommended.

It has a social network element as you can see users musical interests (fan of...)

I have bought more music through that website than any other.

Worth checking out

By Higgs on 7 Sep 2010

iTunes becoming irrelevant

iTunes is rapidly being eclipsed by Amazon and others who are normally cheaper and providing just as good quality files. Who cares how big the catalogue is provided they have the album or track you want at the time for a good price?

As quoted in the article, TuneChecker is a website that everyone who buys music online should bookmark - then be prepared to be flexible about where you buy, to get the best deal on the music you want.

By halsteadk on 9 Sep 2010

www.comparedownload.com (mp3/download price comparison site)

Hey!

Definitely worth checking out http://www.comparedownload.com/

It compares the prices from most of the merchants mentioned in this article and more, and also has some great other features, as well as great design, navigation and layout.

By JLO2010 on 15 Sep 2010

www.comparedownload.com (mp3/download price comparison site)

Hey!

Definitely worth checking out http://www.comparedownload.com/

It compares the prices from most of the merchants mentioned in this article and more, and also has some great other features, as well as great design, navigation and layout.

By JLO2010 on 15 Sep 2010

www.comparedownload.com (mp3/download price comparison site)

Hey!

Definitely worth checking out http://www.comparedownload.com/

It compares the prices from most of the merchants mentioned in this article and more, and also has some great other features, as well as great design, navigation and layout.

By JLO2010 on 15 Sep 2010

Why Not Download & Donate?

I came across www.fairsharemusic.com the other day via the amnesty international web site. This music download site has the same library size as 7digital but they give 50% of their profit to charity. The prices are the same and the selection is the same. What a great idea!

By Paul12986 on 15 Sep 2010

as

Send Christmas Gifts. Buy more to send. On this site __ http://www.soozone.com
_________________________$$$$$$$__________
________________________$$$$$$$$$$________
________________________$$$$$$$$$$$_______
_________________________$$$$$$$$$$$______
__________________________$$$$$$$$$$$_____
_____________________________$$$$$$$$$____
___________________________$$$$$$$$$$_____
http://www.soozone.com $$$$$$$$$$$$$____
________________$$$______$$$$$$$$$$$$$$___
______________$$$$$$$$_____$$$$$$__$$$$$__
_____________$$$$$$$$$$_____$$$$____$$$$$_
___________$$$$$$_$$$$$$$$__$$$$______$$$$
__________$$$$$_____$$$$$$$$_$$$$_______$$$
___ _____$$$$$_________$$$$$$$$$$$$_______$$$
_______ $$$_____________$$$$$$$$$$$________$$$
_____$$$__ ______________$$$$$$$$$$________$$$$$$

sneaker: airmax 90, 95 etc $35-42 free shiping.
boots: UGG etc $60 free shiping.
Jeans : polo etc $35-49 free shipping
T-shirts : A&f etc $12-18 free shipping.
hoodies: 5ive etc $28-40 free shipping
handbags: Ed hardy etc $35-68 free shipping
Sunglasses: LV etc $17 free shipping
Belts: BOSS etc $15 free shipping
Caps: red bull etc $12-15 free shipping
Watches:rolex etc $80 free shipping

http://www.soozone.com

By linxi on 11 Oct 2010

as

Send Christmas Gifts. Buy more to send. On this site __ http://www.soozone.com
_________________________$$$$$$$__________
________________________$$$$$$$$$$________
________________________$$$$$$$$$$$_______
_________________________$$$$$$$$$$$______
__________________________$$$$$$$$$$$_____
_____________________________$$$$$$$$$____
___________________________$$$$$$$$$$_____
http://www.soozone.com $$$$$$$$$$$$$____
________________$$$______$$$$$$$$$$$$$$___
______________$$$$$$$$_____$$$$$$__$$$$$__
_____________$$$$$$$$$$_____$$$$____$$$$$_
___________$$$$$$_$$$$$$$$__$$$$______$$$$
__________$$$$$_____$$$$$$$$_$$$$_______$$$
___ _____$$$$$_________$$$$$$$$$$$$_______$$$
_______ $$$_____________$$$$$$$$$$$________$$$
_____$$$__ ______________$$$$$$$$$$________$$$$$$

sneaker: airmax 90, 95 etc $35-42 free shiping.
boots: UGG etc $60 free shiping.
Jeans : polo etc $35-49 free shipping
T-shirts : A&f etc $12-18 free shipping.
hoodies: 5ive etc $28-40 free shipping
handbags: Ed hardy etc $35-68 free shipping
Sunglasses: LV etc $17 free shipping
Belts: BOSS etc $15 free shipping
Caps: red bull etc $12-15 free shipping
Watches:rolex etc $80 free shipping

http://www.soozone.com

By linxi on 11 Oct 2010

our website: http://www.soozone.com

BEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!

SAFTY & HONESTY GUARANTEE!!

FASTzELIVERY GUARANTEE!!

http://www.soozone.com

By ninihan on 12 Oct 2010

http://www.soozone.com

Best quality, Best reputation , Best services

Our commitment, customer is God.

Quality is our Dignity; Service is our Lift.

Ladies and Gentlemen weicome to my soozone.com.Here,there are the most fashion products . Pass by but don't miss it.Select your favorite clothing! Welcome to come next time ! Thank you! http://www.soozone.com/

Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30

Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35
Handbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35
Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $14

free shipping
competitive price
any size available
accept the paypal

Thanks

By ninihan on 12 Oct 2010

welcome to our store: www.soozone.com
,”’╭⌒╮⌒╮.’,”’,,’,.”,,’,”,.
╱◥██◣”o’,”’,,’,.”.”,,’,.
|田|田田│ ”,,’,.’,”’,,’,.”
╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬

1) Excellent quality made of genuine leather with reasonable price.
2) Fashionable design.
3) Various colors and styles are available in our store.
4) OEM orders are welcomed.

Reliable online sites for buying shoes,if you are interested in any of our products,pls feel free to let me know ,
I am happy to be your service at any time.
I really hope to do something for you.welcome to our store: www.soozone.com
,”’╭⌒╮⌒╮.’,”’,,’,.”,,’,”,.
╱◥██◣”o’,”’,,’,.”.”,,’,.
|田|田田│ ”,,’,.’,”’,,’,.”
╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬

1) Excellent quality made of genuine leather with reasonable price.
2) Fashionable design.
3) Various colors and styles are available in our store.
4) OEM orders are welcomed.

Reliable online sites for buying shoes,if you are interested in any of our products,pls feel free to let me know ,
I am happy to be your service at any time.
I really hope to do something for you.
Website: www.soozone.com
Website: www.soozone.com

By linmaimai on 14 Oct 2010

welcome to our store: www.soozone.com
,”’╭⌒╮⌒╮.’,”’,,’,.”,,’,”,.
╱◥██◣”o’,”’,,’,.”.”,,’,.
|田|田田│ ”,,’,.’,”’,,’,.”
╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬

1) Excellent quality made of genuine leather with reasonable price.
2) Fashionable design.
3) Various colors and styles are available in our store.
4) OEM orders are welcomed.

Reliable online sites for buying shoes,if you are interested in any of our products,pls feel free to let me know ,
I am happy to be your service at any time.
I really hope to do something for you.
Website: www.soozone.com

By linmaimai on 14 Oct 2010

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

advertisement

Latest News StoriesSubscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds

advertisement

Sponsored Links
 
SEARCH
Loading
WEB ID
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010
 
 

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.